Community & Current Events

Martin Short on Canadian talent

By: Jill Buchner

Photo courtesy of Jeff Kirk/CBC Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photo courtesy of Jeff Kirk/CBC

Community & Current Events

Martin Short on Canadian talent

By: Jill Buchner
For Martin Short, the question of whether to support Canadian talent isn't a question at all. "It would be sad if we didn't," he says. Short has shown support for the work of other Canadians through everything from hosting the CBC's 75th anniversary program in 2011 to hosting the Canadian Screen Awards. He was even spotted at the Grey Cup cheering on his hometown team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with his buddy Tom Hanks.

But Canadian showbiz is closest to his heart. "The more attention brought to the Canadian film or television industry, the more people will discover gems that they haven't seen yet," says Short.

The actor, comedian and singer got his start at The Second City in Toronto before eventually going on to star in Broadway shows and big Hollywood films, though he still spends plenty of time in Canada (we spoke to him when he was shooting the new comedy Working the Engels in Toronto) and has a home in Muskoka, ON.

And Canada has certainly celebrated him. Short has won a Gemini Award, received a couple of Canadian Screen Award nods, and was nominated Comedy Person of the Year for the Canadian Comedy Awards. He was even named a member of the Order of Canada for making "laughter an important Canadian export."

Short—who has worked with Canadian comedians such as Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara and was later followed by the likes of Jim Carrey and Mike Myers—knows there's something distinctive about Canadian humour. "It's more bizarre, more insane—at times I feel it's more original."

Short has loved performing since childhood, when he put on pretend performances in his bedroom. "I certainly was always encouraged in my family; no one made fun of me for having my own imaginary shows," he says. But his real comedic influences came later in life. "Once I got involved in show business in Toronto, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara and all the SCTV people were huge influences on me," he says. "When you meet someone exceptional, you learn from them."

Short continues to learn with every project and says his goals are constantly changing. "Initially, it's just to pay rent. And then, when you've got the rent covered, it's to keep yourself intrigued and interested and growing," he says. "I don't think anyone who's worth their salt really feels, ‘Oh, I've made it. I'm there.' I think each new project is a potential source of failure and disaster, and that makes you work harder."

At last year's Canadian Screen Awards, Short joked that, though he was up for two awards, his hosting gig meant he had three chances to lose. We thought Short's variety-show-like performance was a winner, and the Academy must have, too, because he's back this year to celebrate the best again.

"Some of them are old friends, some are new," Short says of the crowd. But the show is always fun. "People are happy to be there and excited to be part of a celebration that's purely Canadian."

For more stories of amazing Canadians, check out our favourite space commander, Chris Hadfield.
                                               
This story was originally titled "Short & Sweet" in the March 2014 issue.
           
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Martin Short on Canadian talent

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